Sunday, July 31, 2011

Some differences between the Tridentine Mass and the Novus Ordo Missae

Sometimes I am asked this silly question: "Which is better, the Novus Ordo Missae or the Tridentine Mass?" Silly questions usually deserve silly answers, but in the second article of the series, I will try to explain some (evident) differences between the two Forms of the Roman Rite.

First of all, fundamentally, all valid Masses from a Pontifical Solemn High Mass to a 'Neocatechumenal Way' Mass all have the same value, that is to say Christ offering Himself to the Father on our behalf. Whether, however, the photo above of a so-called Youth Mass (with lay persons having the clown nose) can be deemed as reverent, I think the answer is an obvious NO!

From my limited understanding and experience, the Tridentine Mass more fully represents a sacrificial nature than does the Novus Ordo. The following are the main, basic differences:

a) Ad Orientem posture: This indicates that the prayers of the Mass, while some are said for our benefit, are not to us, but to the Father. The Priest, in the Person of Christ, is praying to the Father, not announcing to us.

b) Prayers at the foot of the altar: These prayers are reminiscent of the prayers the High Priest would say before entering the Holy of Holies. The priest would do this to purify himself from sin in order to make a worthy offering for the people. The priest says the prayers at the foot of the Altar for the same reason. Note that he does this before the Introit, recognising that he is a sinner and that he comes as a servant.

c) Motions: The motions are much more reverent, more genuflecting and the like, and a small motion that was started due to necessity but that can have great meaning attached. The Deacon and subdeacon hold the edge of the Chasuble when the Priest incenses the altar.

d) Offertory: This part of the Mass has changed a lot. Supposedly this had to with the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, on the grounds that it was a needless repetition, and that it was confusing when the wafer became the Hostia! This is nothing less than the preparation of the Victim, and if one reads through the Pentateuch (and visualises the sacrifice) and sees a Tridentine Mass the link becomes clear.

e) Silence: This argument is the same as the argument for Ad Orientem posture, this is not about us, it is about God. This silence is real, part of the Rite, and encourages contemplation. Silence in the Novus Ordo is far less and it seems imposed and unnecessary. How much silence is kept by the congregation during the Novus Ordo should also be taken into account.

f) Communion: In the Tridentine Mass, the Christian kneels, and humbly receives the Sacred Host, the Lord of Heaven and Earth. In the Novus Ordo it depends on the whims of the priest: standing, or kneeling, in the hand, in the mouth, distributed by Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, etc.

In Malta, we can increase the unity of the Church by bringing the Novus Ordo more in line with tradition. We could also incorporate better music (i.e. more traditional) and an ad orientem posture (especially in the old churches). This would increase reverence in the Mass and decrease narcissism. It would also help the Novus Ordo priest’s humility, as quite a number of Masses have become more of the 'Father XYZ Show'.

Other ideas could be to limit the role of lay persons as too often serving at Mass has become a status position or a position of pseudo authority in the Church. A far better way to assist at Mass is through interior participation.

Finally the insistence of a more reverent attitude regarding the dress code at Mass (especially during the hot summer months in these islands), talking while in the Church, and more Orthodox teaching would bring more people in line with Church teaching and lessen fear and distrust of the Tridentine Mass.

People, young people especially, really crave authenticity. The answer is to gradually return to organically developed practices that were developed over the past two milienia, that is the Tridentine Mass. We need to allow the richness of the organic rite to influence the Novus Ordo Missae (which was not organically developed, it was written up by a committee) and purge all elements of the Novus Ordo which are less in line with our Catholic Tradition.

More will follow in a later post.

Godwin Xuereb

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Holy Mass in Malta since 1969: a brief history

Since July 2007, slowly but surely, a number of articles in the Maltese media appeared that showed growing intolerance towards the Tridentine Rite. Alas, a number (if not the majority) were penned by well known priests. These articles are continuing to increase, although in a more subtle form. The time has come to set the record straight as many Maltese are still unaware of the developments that are happening in Malta and elsewhere. This is the first article of a series.

In 1969 Pope Paul VI introduced a new rite of the Mass for the Latin Rite Church that was apparently binding on all Catholics – priests, bishops, religious and laypeople. It was then – and is still the case to a great extent in Malta – widely believed that it has been forbidden for a priest to say the Tridentine Mass – unless he had special permission to do so, with a document called an “Indult.”

The introduction of a new rite caused widespread confusion, discouragement, division, disillusionment and destruction – even the closure (or selling) of churches in many countries. This situation did not reach the Maltese shores except for one major common factor with the rest of the Catholic world: more than half of Catholics in Malta have stopped going to Mass altogether since the new rite of Mass was introduced, albeit the introduction of the vernacular was supposed to encourage more participation by the faithful. Not to mention the destruction, in a number of cases, of a number of church furnishings such as altar rails.

A false impression was created throughout almost all the Catholic world by very high Church officials that by virtue of holy obedience all priests after 1969 had to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass according to the Novus Ordo Missae. In Malta, the first people that approached the Archbishop of the time were asked not to pursue matters further because any concessions might lead to schisms.

At the same time, efforts were made by Catholics around the world and, notwithstanding hurdles, a number of milestones were achieved:

a) the so-called Agatha Christie Indult (the permission granted in 1971 by Pope Paul VI for the use of the Tridentine Mass in England and Wales);

b) an attempt by Pope John Paul I, within days after his election, to summon a commission to restore the Tridentine Mass. Unfortunately, John Paul I died before the commission could meet.

c) Quattuor abhunc annos (1984) - this granted an indult for bishops to authorise celebration of the Tridentine Mass according to the 1962 Missal.

d) The first President of FIUV, Dr. Eric de Saventhem was instrumental in convincing Pope John Paul II in 1986 to convoke a special Commission of Cardinals to investigate the situation concerning the celebration of the Tridentine Mass. This Commission consisted of these nine Cardinals: Ratzinger, Mayer, Oddi, Stickler, Casaroli, Gantin, Innocenti, Palazzini and Tomko. It reached the following conclusions:

1) the Tridentine Mass was never forbidden to be said by a Catholic priest in good standing; and furthermore,

2) no one – not even a religious superior, bishop or Cardinal – could forbid a priest from saying the Tridentine Mass.

e) Pope John Paul II's 1988 Ecclesia Dei adflicta established the PCED to address concerns arising from activities of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and his followers and aimed at facilitating a wider access to the Tridentine Mass.

The developments under Pope Benedict XVI have been well documented in this Blog and elsewhere so there is no need to elaborate further here.

Pro Tridentina (Malta) has been in discussion with the Church for a number of years in the hope that the current Pontiff's wishes are adhered to. We are still not yet there but we are moving in the right direction.

Let us pray so that the spiritual as well as temporal benefits of the Tridentine Mass will be available to these islands again, sooner rather than later.

Godwin Xuereb

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tridentine Mass in Valletta

It is with immense joy that I was informed that this week a Tridentine Mass took place at the Church of the Jesuits, in Valletta. Unfortunately, I came to know about it only later on in the day by the same priest who celebrated it. Thanks to this Blog - at least blogs can be useful tools sometimes :-) - we got in touch and had the opportunity to discuss various topics of common interest.

I trust that this event will be the first of a series of others.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum, benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui Iesus. Sancta Maria mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Karm Debattista's perspective on the Holy Mass

The following quotes come from Karm Debattista (pictured above), a Maltese priest of the Missionary Society of Saint Paul (M.S.S.P.). I am taking the liberty to post them as they were in the public domain (replies on an event on Facebook). No editing was done and typos were left. Any further comments from my end are superfluous.

In the near future I will be commenting on how I personally view the Holy Mass (both forms of the Roman Rite) and the current situation in Malta.


4 July 2011, replying to a query why he said "count me out" when invited to attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form:

"it does not suit me at all. I believe the mass as it is now is already outdated let alone the tridentine. Sorry, but it will never do for me. Need to live in 2011"

6 July 2011, replying to a query on what a 'future' Mass means to him:

"A relation with God that, as Jesus said, requires only adoring God in spirit and in truth."

11 July 2011, replying to a further query on his position about the Holy Mass:

"... I am saying that I live in 2011. The Catholic Church has in history deviated from the original meaning of the Eucharist and so Vatican II has come to reform these deviations."

11 July 2011, reacting to comments about the spirituality of the Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form and abuses in the Ordinary Form:

"... And do you think that all these details matter at all? I always wonder if we have the same Gospel and how we understand Jesus words when I read such things. But do not worry. God is very patient with us."

11 July 2011, reacting to comments on the unfairness with which traditional Catholics are labelled as schismatics when it is more a question of them being secluded by Church authorities:

"when we create one way of doing things we create schisms. I believe Jesus came to remove the right or wrong way of doing things. And not just the way to do it but even the place to do it. He calls us to adore in Spirit and in Truth, and not in the temple or on the mountain. We have ears, but we do not hear."

Friday, July 15, 2011

Avviż importanti rigward Quddies Tridentin f'Malta

Fid-dawl ta' xi kummenti li qed isiru, l-aktar fuq Facebook, nixtieq niċċara dan li ġej.

Pro Tridentina (Malta) normalment ma torganizzax Quddies bil-Forma Straordinarja. Li għamilt jien fil-passat kien li meta nkun infurmat b'Quddies li se jsir, noħloq event fuq Facebook u avviż fuq dan il-Blog sabiex nagħti pubbliċita'. Jidher li din l-inizjattiva mhux dejjem intlaqgħet tajjeb.

Għalhekk, minn issa 'l quddiem mhux se noħloq aktar events fuq Facebook jew il-Blog dment li ma jkunx quddies organizzat minn Pro Tridentina (Malta) nnifisha.

Ħassejt li kelli nieħu din id-deċiżjoni drastika sabiex nissalvagwarda lil Pro Tridentina (Malta) li fl-aħħar mill-aħħar kienet qed tipprovdi dan is-servizz sabiex jitqawwem aktar l-għarfien f'Malta dwar il-Quddiesa bil-Forma Straordinarja.

Sfortunatament, minflok il-grazzi naqalgħu kważi tgħajjir minn min suppost jaf aħjar.

Godwin Xuereb

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Important Notice - Tridentine Mass Cancelled

The Tridentine Mass that was originally to be held on the 16th July 2011 on the occasion of the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel at St. Theresa Church, Cospicua has been cancelled.